A Must See Exhibit about the Sea Islands at Telfair Museum


Caption: Photo by David Kaminsky. Courtesy of Telfair Museums.

Renowned contemporary artist Carrie Mae Weems became interested in the Gullah culture off the Georgia and South Carolina coasts while she was studying folklore in the 1980s. She decided to go looking for her African roots and the Sea Islands Series, 1991-1992 was created.

Here are 5 reasons you must see this hauntingly beautiful exhibition, on view now at Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center…

  1. There is a wealth of information about the Gullah Geechee people. They have been called “the most African of American cultures" and continue to be one of the most vibrant and evolving communities in our region today. The exhibition shares maps, audio and reading materials, among other information, and encourages visitors to learn more about this unique community.
  2. Storytelling is central to the work and the photographs are showcased alongside text panels that explore Gullah beliefs, folkloric texts and songs that Weems has mostly rewritten.

Caption: Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953) Untitled (Praise House), from the Sea Islands series, 1992, Gelatin silver prints 20 x 20 inches each (2 panels) Edition 1/10

©Carrie Mae Weems.  Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

  1. This is the first time the Sea Islands Series has been on view in the region in which the photographs were taken. Many of the sites in the photographs still exist today and include well-known locations like MLK Boulevard in Savannah, Boone Plantation in Charleston and Ibo Landing on St. Simons Island.
  2. Carrie Mae Weems has physically inserted herself into her photographs, becoming the subject and photographer as well as performer and director. She does this both out of the practicality of using an available body to conceptual desire to "inscribe my presence in the things I consider important." 

Caption: Photo by David Kaminsky. Courtesy of Telfair Museums.

  1. Although it looks at Gullah culture, the themes are universal. The artist wants “people of color to stand for the human multitudes.” This is evident in the fact that many of the superstitions and terms mentioned in text panels
    are used widely around the world today and stemmed from these African cultures becoming intertwined in various other cultures Carrie Mae Weems: Sea Islands Series, 1991-1992 is on view at Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center through May 6, 2018. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.